Survey conducted by the Risk Institute at OSU's Fisher College of Business shows how businesses create value through risk management.

By Bernadette A. Minton

In recent years, risk management has evolved into a more comprehensive and integrated practice. Risk management was once viewed as only being done to meet regulatory requirements and to protect the firm against the negative effects of volatility in their business environment. While those aspects remain leading catalysts for firms who increased risk management efforts over the last three years, a fraction of firms recognize risk management to be a source of growth.

Over the same three-year period, senior executives and the board of directors have become more involved in risk management processes. This integrated approach leverages collaboration across an organization to identify and evaluate risks and to proactively manage those risks to achieve corporate objectives and enhance shareholder value.

One of the primary goals for the Risk Institute at the Ohio State University Fisher College of Business is to create a greater understanding of how organizations can proactively leverage risk management to create value. Given the varied roles that risk management plays in different organizations, it is important to hear from senior executives from both financial and nonfinancial industries about how they view risk management's role in their organization. It's also critical to understand how executives, if at all, integrate risk management into business decisions as well as structure their risk management function to support its role in the firm.

Organizations are increasingly impacted by risks that are more interconnected and ever changing. This means that the conversation about risk and risk management must continue to evolve and grow. It is with this goal in mind that the Risk Institute developed a comprehensive research initiative to survey senior risk management executives. The survey is designed to deepen the understanding of how U.S. companies structure their risk management practices.

The annual Risk Management Survey is one example of how the Risk Institute and its founding partners are committed to moving this conversation forward. In this inaugural survey, we provide a snapshot of risk management practices among a large and diverse set of U.S. firms.

As The Risk Institute unveils the findings from its inaugural 2014 Risk Institute Survey on Integrated Risk Management several things are clear:

1) In order for firms to transition to a more integrated risk management approach, which views risk management as a source of value enhancing opportunities, it is important to choose a leader of the risk management functions who embraces this view and who does not see risk management as merely a defensive strategy. Equally important is choosing a leader who can effectively collaborate with other C-suite executives to leverage risk to enhance shareholder value. Finally, the Board committee responsible for risk management also should share this view.

2) For firms wanting a more integrated risk management approach, it is important to include more business units/functions in the processes and not only rely on those functions related to finances and meeting mandated requirements. Aligning risk management with key organizational strategies will aid an organization to successfully develop a fully integrated risk management function that can leverage risk to achieve corporate objectives and enhance growth and shareholder value.

3) For firms to fully reap the benefits of an integrated approach, not only do they need to recognize a business process and analyze the risks of that process, they must also increase their efforts to have their analysis feeding back into the risk management of the firm itself. This "looping" process will allow firms to proactively manage the risks impacting their organizations and identify emerging risks to be leveraged or mitigated.

4) Given the changing nature of risks impacting firms, firms must continue to use a variety of techniques like best case/worse case and extreme scenario analyses, which can effectively evaluate these risks by including proprietary models and simulations.

5) As firms move from viewing risk management as a defensive strategy to a more fully integrated approach, senior executives and the Board must develop mechanisms to set the scope of risk-taking that are consistent with this latter view of risk management.

These findings afford some great insights and will enable us to investigate and address challenges in the practice of risk management so to advance the adoption of leading integrated risk management strategies.

To learn more and access the complete 2014 survey on integrated risk management, visit: http://go.osu.edu/2014RiskSurvey


Bernadette A. Minton is academic director at the Risk Institute at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business. She may be reached at minton.15@osu.edu.